Entertainment

Strictly Come Dancing 2021: The first live show kicks off amid scrutiny around unvaccinated pros

Strictly Come Dancing 2021 kicked off its first live show on Saturday, with all 15 couples taking to the floor for the first time amid a flurry of scrutiny around the show’s unvaccinated pros.

In an action-packed opener, the pairs got their first chance to impress the judges, including newcomer Anton Du Beke, with an array of energetic routines. 

The show’s broadcast came amid claims of ‘upset’ behind the scenes after it was reported three of the show’s professional dancers, one of which has been paired with a celebrity, had refused the Covid vaccine, casting doubt on the show’s stringent safety measures. 

It’s here! Strictly Come Dancing 2021 kicked off its first live show on Saturday, with all 15 couples taking to the floor for the first time amid a flurry of scrutiny around the show’s unvaccinated pros

Tom Fletcher and Amy Dowden were the first to take the dancefloor with an energetic Cha Cha to September by Earth, Wind & Fire, after squeezing rehearsals and training around the singer’s nationwide tour with McFly.

Setting the bar high, he was praised by the panel, who said he was ‘going to go far’ if he could improve his leg and foot action, and earned a score of 21 out of 40.

Hitting back: This comes after a representative for the show denied reports that Strictly's unvaccinated pros are so opposed to receiving the Covid jab, they are willing to quit the show (the male dancers are pictured)

Hitting back: This comes after a representative for the show denied reports that Strictly’s unvaccinated pros are so opposed to receiving the Covid jab, they are willing to quit the show (the male dancers are pictured)

This comes after a representative for the show denied reports that Strictly’s unvaccinated pros are so opposed to receiving the Covid jab, they are willing to quit the show.

Sources claimed that despite others pleading for them to reconsider, the dancers, who have not been named, are steadfast in their decision not to have the jab.  

A source told The Sun that BBC bosses did not make it a mandatory requirement for this year’s Strictly stars to be vaccinated, despite similar policies being in place on other channels.

It’s thought that while none of the dancers are being forced to get the jab, their decision has sparked ‘upset’ behind the scenes.

The insider said: ‘The three dancers have made their positions crystal clear — they’d rather quit than have the jab. There is mounting pressure upon them to be vaccinated but they are refusing to budge. 

‘Obviously no one could have foreseen the upset it has caused.

‘No one can make the dancers have the jab but some people have asked them to reconsider for the sake of the show. At Strictly they treat each other as a big family. They are normally a unified team and when a few of the team aren’t singing off the same hymn sheet it causes issues.’

It’s thought that the revelation three of the dancers are unvaccinated has sparked concern among the show’s crew, especially those who are required to work in close contact with the couples.

A Strictly spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘This is simply untrue’.  

Rules: A source said that BBC bosses did not make it a mandatory requirement for this year's Strictly stars to be vaccinated (the celebrity lineup is pictured)

Rules: A source said that BBC bosses did not make it a mandatory requirement for this year’s Strictly stars to be vaccinated (the celebrity lineup is pictured)

Following reports that one celebrity was furious to learn their professional partner hadn’t been jabbed, former Strictly stars have led calls for the unvaccinated dancers to be dropped from the show.

Even PM Boris has waded in as he said on Wednesday: ‘Everyone should take their jabs and I’m saying that not in a bullying way but just because I think it’s a great thing to do.’ 

James Jordan, who was a professional on Strictly from 2006 to 2013, slammed the ‘selfish’ dancers who are putting the ‘entire show at risk’ and called on BBC bosses to publicly name them. 

Speaking to The Sun, he said: ‘If someone on this show gets this virus and their immune system is really low and they die, it could have been prevented.

‘The BBC is publicly funded by taxpayers. There’s over 44million people that are double vaccinated in this country so the BBC has a moral obligation to the country to say to these dancers, ”I’m really sorry, unless you’re going to be double vaccinated you can’t have your position on Strictly”.

‘I don’t believe they should be dancing and putting the whole cast of Strictly in jeopardy.’

James added that BBC bosses should have asked this year’s dancers whether they’d been vaccinated against Covid, and if not they should not be allowed to take part on the show.

Comments: Even PM Boris has waded in as he said on Wednesday: 'Everyone should take their jabs and I'm saying that not in a bullying way but just because I think it's a great thing to do'

Comments: Even PM Boris has waded in as he said on Wednesday: ‘Everyone should take their jabs and I’m saying that not in a bullying way but just because I think it’s a great thing to do’

Drama: It comes amid reports that bosses are battling to save the 2021 series after celebrities were furious to learn that three pros had refused the coronavirus vaccine

Drama: It comes amid reports that bosses are battling to save the 2021 series after celebrities were furious to learn that three pros had refused the coronavirus vaccine

It comes following reports that BBC bosses were battling to save Strictly and a furious star told pals: ‘We should have been protected,’ after learning their professional partner hasn’t received the jab.  

A source told The Sun the celebrity was previously unaware their professional partner hadn’t been jabbed, and has been stunned by BBC bosses’ failure to secure their safety despite stringent Covid measures.

They said: ‘They just couldn’t believe that their partner would not have had a jab. 

‘They thought they’d be protected so to discover their partner hasn’t even had a single jab is very worrying.

‘The couple have already spent tens of hours practising together. Clearly, there is a lot of anger and a lot of questions to be asked.’ 

Drama: Sources claim one star has told pals: 'We should have been protected,' after learning their professional partner hasn't received the jab

Drama: Sources claim one star has told pals: ‘We should have been protected,’ after learning their professional partner hasn’t received the jab

Scary: It comes following reports that it had become well-known among the cast that a third professional dancer had refuse the Covid vaccine (Giovanni Pernice and Oti Mabuse pictured)

Scary: It comes following reports that it had become well-known among the cast that a third professional dancer had refuse the Covid vaccine (Giovanni Pernice and Oti Mabuse pictured) 

It was reported that the revelation a third professional dancer had refused the Covid, had become well-knowI among the Strictly cast, sparking resentment behind the scenes.

The pro, who was not named, does not have to disclose whether they’ve been vaccinated to BBC bosses, because it is a private medical matter.

A source told The Sun: ‘Producers are dreading an outbreak of Covid on the new series, which is a crucial part of the autumn schedule.

‘They are taking every possible precaution to make the set as safe as possible, particularly as the studio audience is returning.’

Scare: The pro does not have to disclose whether they've been vaccinated to BBC bosses, because it is a private medical matter (Karen Hauer and Gorka Marquez pictured)

Scare: The pro does not have to disclose whether they’ve been vaccinated to BBC bosses, because it is a private medical matter (Karen Hauer and Gorka Marquez pictured)

A Strictly spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘We do not comment on speculation of somebody’s COVID vaccination status. 

‘Strictly Come Dancing production has, and will, continue to follow strict government guidelines to ensure the safety of all on the show.’

This year’s Strictly has once again seen stars and their professional dancers required to adhere to strict Covid safety measures, including being tested multiple times a week, and forming bubbles to perform and train safely.

Saturday’s launch show, which was recorded earlier this month, saw this year’s celebrity contestants discover their professional partners, with the 15 couples set to perform in the first live show this weekend.  

Worries: On Saturday it was reported that two of the show's professional dancers had refused to get Covid jabs (Giovanni is pictured getting a Covid test)

Worries: On Saturday it was reported that two of the show’s professional dancers had refused to get Covid jabs (Giovanni is pictured getting a Covid test)

On Saturday it was reported that two of the show’s professional dancers had refused to get Covid jabs, ahead of the launch show being broadcast.     

The identity of the dancers was not revealed and BBC bosses were said to be fearful that there could be a larger outbreak among those participating in the show.   

A source told The Sun that if a ‘proper outbreak’ led to ‘half the cast’ contracting Covid-19, it would be ‘curtains’ for the show.

They added: ‘Strictly already has to jump through hoops just to be able to broadcast. The dancers who won’t get vaccinated have been a topic of conversation among cast and crew for weeks — even before the positive test.

‘There were vocal protests from celebrities that they didn’t want to be paired with them. It’s a headache for bosses but employers cannot force workers to get jabbed.’ 

Reacting, ex-Strictly contestant Dr Ranj Singh said: ‘I think, you know vaccination is not mandatory, it’s an offer, and I think we should all be playing our part and doing whatever we can to try and keep everybody safe. Not just ourselves but those around us.

‘There may be legitimate reasons for those people to not be able to have the jab and we’ve got to understand that, but I think we’ve all got a part to play to be as safe as possible.

‘And that’s not just about vaccination, that’s about being careful around hand hygiene, trying to distance, wear a mask in enclosed spaces, and all those other things that we should be doing well.’ 

Worries: The identity of the dancers was not revealed and BBC bosses were said to be fearful that there could be a larger outbreak among those participating in the show

It came just three days after it emerged that one professional dancer has tested positive for Covid-19. The unidentified dancer was forced to isolate for ten days, but their celebrity partner tested negative. 

Strictly judge Motsi Mabuse told Good Morning Britain in response to the news of the positive test that ‘it is still a pandemic, we cannot ignore the fact as much as we want our lives back.’

She added: ‘We will all be there and we will all be healthy and all keep on dancing – that’s what I can say.’ 

Speaking of the two dancers’ refusal to get vaccinated, the source added to The Sun: ‘There were vocal protests from celebrities that they didn’t want to be paired with them.’  

Show bosses are reportedly still enforcing Covid-19 bubbles for its professional dancers, despite lockdown restrictions easing.

Wanting to minimise all potential risks, Strictly bosses have requested the show’s dancers all stay at a London hotel in ‘bubbles’, according to The Sun.

Such bubbles were put into practice for last year’s Strictly series amid lockdown, while the show’s professionals have been busy pre-recording group dances ahead of this year’s launch. 

As well as forming bubbles ahead of the series, the professional dancers filmed most of their group routines in advance and only a limited number of guests will be allowed in the studio audience. 

Last year, Strictly bosses brought bubbles and close contact cohorts into play in order to ensure the safety of the contestants, dancers and crew during filming.

Each dancing couple formed an exclusive support bubble – meaning one half of the bubble was a single adult household living alone and the other could remain with their household, allowing them to have close contact with one another. 

Close contact cohorts were also introduced and work similarly to support bubbles, but included regular and routine testing for coronavirus. Each couple was put into a close contact cohort and could not form a cohort with anyone else during the competition.

Despite the measures in place, Covid still wreaked havoc with the series, as same-sex couple Katya Jones and Nicola Adams were forced to leave the competition, after Katya tested positive for the virus. 

Concerns: It came just three days after it emerged that one professional dancer has tested positive for Covid-19 (Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman are pictured)

Concerns: It came just three days after it emerged that one professional dancer has tested positive for Covid-19 (Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman are pictured)

STRICTLY COME DANCING 2021: WHO ARE THE COUPLES?

TOM FLETCHER & AMY DOWDEN

Celebrity’s Age: 36

Profession: McFly musician

Tom says: ‘I’m so pleased the news is out it’s been so hard keeping it secret. Equal parts excited and terrified.’

Fun fact: Tom’s McFly bandmate Harry Judd won Strictly Come Dancing in 2011. Tom’s wife Giovanna Fletcher is the reigning champion of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!

ROBERT WEBB & DIANNE BUSWELL

 Celebrity’s Age: 48

Profession: Actor and comedian

Robert says: ‘It’s very exciting but with a slight undertone of quivering terror.’

Fun Fact: Robert squeezed into a shiny leotard to take the title of Let’s Dance For Comic Relief in 2009, performing What A Feeling from ’80s film Flashdance, beating the likes of Keith Lemon and Paddy McGuinness to the title. 

RHYS STEPHENSON & NANCY XU  

Celebrity’s Age: 27

Profession: CBBC presenter  

Rhys says: ‘I have dreamt about being on this show, and I know for a fact that it is going to exceed every expectation’

Fun fact: Rhys has been an actor since the age of ten, performing alongside Matt Smith and Hugh Bonneville. 

KATIE MCGLYNN & GORKA MARQUEZ

 Celebrity’s Age: 28

Profession: Actress

Katie says: ‘I’m really not a dancer, but I’m so excited to learn a new skill on this crazy journey and cannot wait to slip into some sequins along the way.’

Fun fact: Katie, who played Sinead Tinker in Corrie, won a NTA for Best Serial Drama Performance in 2020. 

TILLY RAMSAY & NIKITA KUZMIN

Celebrity’s Age: 19

Profession: CBBC presenter

Tilly says: ’I’m going to put my heart and soul into this and can’t wait to get my dancing shoes on!’

Fun fact: Tilly’s father is celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and the pair often star in dancing TikTok videos.

NINA WADIA & NEIL JONES  

Celebrity’s Age: 52

Profession: Actress

Nina says: ‘I think I should do this before I’m too old and can’t walk anymore. I just want to grab life by the horns and just enjoy it.’

Fun fact: Nina is a JDRF Ambassador and was awarded an OBE in the 2021 New Year’s Honours List. 

ADAM PEATY & KATYA JONES

Celebrity’s Age: 26

Profession: Athlete 

Adam says: ‘I’m really looking forward to doing something totally different and challenging myself away from the pool.’

Fun fact: Adam becoming the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.

UGO MONYE & OTI MABUSE

 

Celebrity’s Age: 38

Profession: Rugby player and sports pundit

Ugo says: ‘What a dream come true! Strictly is the biggest entertainment show on TV and I can’t wait to show everyone I’ve got more than just dad dancing moves.

Fun fact: Beginning his rugby career at Harlequins in 2002, Ugo went on to make 241 appearances for the club where he scored 89 tries, won a Premiership and made his England debut in 2008.

 

AJ ODUDU & KAI WIDDRINGTON

Celebrity’s Age: 33

Profession: TV presenter

 AJ says: ‘I think it’s going to be really challenging. I can’t wait for the sequins, the wigs, the glitz and the glamour.’

Fun Fact: Apocalypse Wow hosts AJ has featured on a whopping 14 TV shows this year, competing in the likes oF Cooking With The Stars and Celebrity Karaoke Club. She has appeared as a panelist on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two in the past, too.

JOHN WHAITE & JOHANNES RADEBE

Celebrity’s Age: 33

Profession: Great British Bake Off Winner and TV chef

 John says: ‘I’m so grateful, excited, and nervous to be joining the Strictly 2021 family… I’ve been wearing sequins and jazzy attire since I was three years old and can’t wait to hurl myself, full throttle, around the most glamorous dance floor on earth’

Fun Fact: The duo are the first ever all-male partnering – the first in 17 years of the show.

SARA DAVIES & ALJAZ SKORJANEC

Celebrity’s Age: 37  

Profession:  Businesswoman

Sara says: ‘I’m really nervous because so far the producers keep asking me if I can dance… Truth be told – I haven’t got a clue! I’ve not danced since I did ballet lessons when I was little.’

Fun fact: Sara was the youngest ever dragon on BBC show Dragons’ Den.

DAN WALKER & NADIYA BYCHKOVA

Celebrity’s Age: 44 

Profession: Journalist

Dan says: ‘I’m enjoying the experience when it starts of learning to dance. I’ll be honest I’m not making room on any shelves in my house for the glitterball.’

Fun fact: Dan recently quit Football Focus after 12 years at the helm and has been covering Tokyo Olympics.

 GREG WISE & KAREN HAUER

Celebrity’s Age: 55

Profession: Actor

Greg says: ‘It’s about being out there and exposing yourself as someone who can’t dance, and learning.’

Fun fact: Greg is married to the actress Emma Thompson who he met while filming Sense and Sensibility.  

ROSE AYLING-ELLIS & GIOVANNI PERNICE

Celebrity’s Age: 30

Profession: Actress

Rose says: ‘I hope I will do the deaf community proud and break down more barriers. I am also very excited to learn an incredible new skill.’

 Fun fact: Rose will make history as Strictly’s first deaf contestant. 

 JUDI LOVE & GRAZIANO DI PRIMA

Celebrity’s Age: 41

Profession: Comedienne 

Judi says: ‘I’m truly looking forward to pushing myself in something that I could have only dreamed of doing and now it’s actually coming true!’

Fun fact: Judi began comedy when she performed a set in front of her class for a degree module.

 

 

 


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